Exclusive: Sriram Raghavan’s National Award winning FTII diploma film The Eight Column Affair

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    Ritz 8 years ago

    Good one Sputnik – thanks for sharing

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    umesh shukla 8 years ago

    i like this cine ma is my second mother u know cine..ma

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    sputnik 8 years ago

    Interview of Sriram Raghavan

    Bang-bang, wham-wham! – Sriram Raghavan admits that childhood for him was a series of feature films, films like Born Free, Ben Hur and Hatari!, films that helped him get over the tedium of studies and school. Later, he was fascinated by Johnny Mera Naam, Sholay and Vijay Anand became an icon to look up to. The influence of those childhood films remains with him even today in himself and the films that he writes and makes.

    It is likely that you will be treated with surprises triggering off like flying bullets if you are watching a Sriram Raghavan film. His name pronounces thrill and frolic. He is a master chef at maneuvering riveting cinematic experienceswhich take one back to his childhood. His films throw a keyed up audience into the middle of a suspenseful plot. You can let your hair down while watching gripping twists and turns in his movies.

    With just three films, Ek Hasina Thi (2004), Johnny Gaddar (2007) and Agent Vinod (2012); he has become one of the most sought after writer-directors in Hindi mainstream cinema.

    This Film & Television Institute of India alumnus, who has an uncanny knack of dealing with edgy subjects like con, killing, revenge and even secret agents, himself is a warm, down-to-earth personality. His candid fascination with the silver screen surfaces itself quietly freely as he talks about cinema with twinkling eyes and a perpetual smile.

    He tells you how a few things didn’t quite go right with his last film Agent Vinod, in an unapologetic manner; “I knew the film was a little long, little bloated when it was being written but couldn’t crack that.” Ready to innovate and improvise till the very last minute as a director, Sriram confesses that he is rather undisciplined when it comes to writing. Apart from writing episodes of C.I.D. and Aahat; Sriram had made two short films, Raman Raghav (45 minute docudrama) and The Eight Column Affair (his student diploma film at FTII, edited by Rajkumar Hirani, which went on to win the National Film Award in 1987.

    Surprisingly, at one point of time Sriram didn’t want to enter the film school. He recalls, “Saeed Mirza had told me something which I could never forget. He had said– An institute will polish pebbles and dim diamonds.” Getting into the FTII almost did not happen. Sriram was assisting Mukul Anand in Khandala and had decided to skip the final interview. Luckily, the shooting got cancelled and Sriram showed up at FTII, just for the heck of it. The rest, as they say, is history.

    (Excerpts from the interview-)

    How did you get into films?
    I have been fond of films since childhood. I found them better than school and at that time, they were your only escape as TV wasn’t around. I used to watch as many films as I could because my parents, especially dad, weren’t too enthusiastic about me watching too many films. Shridhar wasn’t even born at that time while I must have been just a kid. My parents allowed me to only go for films like Born Free, Ben Hur or Hatari!, but slowly I could go out of my own. I didn’t know what direction or filmmaking was all about. For me, films were a good escape to get lost into another word.

    Then, I wanted to be a journalist and worked with some magazines. But I wasn’t particularly good at it as I had a very bad stammer at that time. After a few months, I backed out and joined Mukul Anand as an assistant. I had met him while doing an interview. I had told him, “I wish to know more about films.” His reply was, “Come and join me. However, there is no money.” I worked with him on his second film Aitbaar (1985) which had Dimple and Raj Babbar. Later, I joined the film school (FTII).

    So you didn’t learn filmmaking between Apollo and Alankar, like your brother? Obviously, I did watch a lot of movies at these two theatres. We, me and my brother, discuss that though today we watch so many movie via different modes of viewing, like laptops, the scenes which we actually remember are from films like North By North West, Jewel Thief, Sholay, which we had watched at a very young age. These are the movies which I remember vividly. I may have seen a movie last week and even liked it but it comes and goes like that without leaving that great an impact.

    What made you go for a formalized learning at FTII?
    I was assisting Mukul while some of my friends were attempting the exam. I also went and took it. Due to the chance factor I got called for the interview. But I didn’t want to go because even though I was just a novice, I was actually enjoying working with Mukul.

    We were shooting a song for Aitbaar in Khandala. Somehow, the shooting got cancelled for two days and while main artistes went away, rest of us stayed back. I thought of visiting my house in Pune as I was already close by. That was also the day of the interview and if shoot was there, I would not have gone.

    Earlier, I had talked to Mukul about joining the film school. He was a far sighted kind of a person and told me that working with him would take me a few years to make my own film, whereas at the film institute, I could have made films instantaneously. He was also alert about the advent of TV and somehow, knew how big it was to become. He told me that though many people do without any formal learning it’s actually good to have it. “Just do it.” he said.

    I had also met other filmmakers, including Saeed Mirza, while working as a journalist. I had asked Mirza if going to a film school was a better idea than doing a job and what he told me was something I could never forget. He had said, “An institute will polish pebbles and dim diamonds.”

    Did FTII polish the pebble or dimmed the diamond?
    (Chuckles) I have no idea. I think polished the pebble, probably.

    How was the training at FTII?
    I did the three year diploma in direction course at FTII. It’s a great place where one gets to watch so many films. The whole campus keeps abuzz with films screenings and subsequent discussions. Apart from the formal learning, the environment also acts upon you in an overall sense. The individual exercises also help you a lot. You try to come up with a masterpiece every time and end up making a not so good stuff. But one learns and keeps on learning from his mistakes.

    How did you become a writer?
    I do write stuff but I don’t think I am as prolific or disciplined as I should be. I write out of compulsion than choice. I enjoy writing but lack the discipline to sit and write. The shooting process is equally fun for me. So I finish shooting one film and then sit to write the other one. It takes me time. Now I am also trying to work with other people and collaborate, along with writing my own thing. Writing is fun for me but it requires major discipline which I need to get.

    What happened after FTII?
    I went to ISRO, Ahmedabad, for two years and was making documentaries on various social issues. Then I came back and for a while wasn’t doing anything. I used to write for B P Singh, the director-producer of CID and Aahat. My brother was actually writing the bulk of those episodes. But sometimes when he wasn’t free and a story was needed immediately, I would chip in. That would take care of few of my expenses. Then, I started directing some episodes of these two shows.

    For almost 10 years I was trying to make a feature film but it wasn’t easy at that point of time. I made a film named Raman Raghav which never got released. I made it for a company named Media Classic which was into making Marathi TV serials.They wanted to do something on true incidents of Mumbai cops and gave me 5-6 stories based on old police case files which included the case of Charles Sobhraj escaping from the Tihar Prison.

    Raman Raghav’s story was also one of them. I found him as a very fascinating character. He was probably India’s first Serial Killer. I had a lot of access to the cops who had actually worked on that case. I met all of them and got the required material. I came up with a script which was very dramatic. I had also spoken to Raghuvir Yadav and had told him about Raman Raghav’s life story; what he did and why, how he was caught and things like that.

    One of the people I had met during my research was a psychiatrist who had examined and treated Raman. He told something which made a lot of sense to me. He said, “He is not criminal but a sick person. He has paranoid schizophrenia which is kind of a disease.” Then a few days before the shoot, I went back to my script and found it very fake. The murders were overly dramatic, while in reality there was no drama but a man compelled to do something. I felt the script was completely wrong and told my EP, “I will not use this script. I will just shoot what actually happened.” Of course, parts of the script remained but the drama was gone. I and Raghuvir Yadav shot it just like what had happened in reality. It didn’t remain fiction but something based on facts.

    That film earned me some kind of recognition. Ramu (Ram Gopal Varma) saw it and asked me to write for him. This is how I got into writing.

    What did you write after that?
    I had been writing a couple of scripts for Ramu but he would back off midway saying “This is not what I want to do right now. I want to do something else.” There was one story involving an encounter cop which he wanted me to write. He gave me a lot of material while I also did some research. At one point he said “You will make this film.” My reaction was “Oh, I would love to.”

    But I remember Company was just getting released at that time when he told me “I think it’s not the right time to make that film. The cops don’t want something like this to come out. Wait for some time.”

    May be he saw that I was disappointed and then offered me another story to read. It was Ek Hasina Thi. It wasn’t a proper script but kind of a novelette written by a first timer. I read it and liked a lot of its elements. Then we sat and rewrote it to be made into a film.

    Before that, I had mostly written for television. It’s only for B P Singh that I have written stuff which he directs otherwise, I write only what I have to direct myself. So would you say, for you, films are more important and writing is just a way to get them made?
    Not really. Writing is of course a way of making films but it also has its own joy which one can relish. It’s just that for me, because I always wanted to make films eventually, all my writing got focused around what I could make or get produced. Once or twice people have told me to write for them but that was in a very initial phase. One film was even ready to be shot but then it didn’t happen. So finally the first script which I wrote was that of my own film. I wasn’t a writer first and then a filmmaker, I was a bit of both all the time.

    Your first film came in 2004 and third film came in 2012. Would you say you are bit on the slow side?
    Of course, there is no way I can avoid that. I am now trying to be prolific. Sometimes you don’t plan such delays, they just happen. Once you finish a film you do take six months to one year to write another one and that is time consuming. Apart from that, there are no excuses to such long gaps. I hope it doesn’t happen again.

    Your brother (Shridhar Raghavan) is also a writer, any possibilities of collaborating with him? We keep talking about it but he is kind of a busy writer. We both actually want it to happen and it might happen soon. In fact, whenever he writes something he bounces it up to me. It’s like if he is writing something and I am doing something else, it’s bound to take both of us some time to reciprocate.

    It’s just that we haven’t sat down together and worked on a project. We were supposed to work together for Agent Vinod but then that film was taking its own time in terms of when we were to start. So at one point of time he moved on and said “Ok, another time.” We will definitely work together. It’s like having a writer at home whose work I really like. I’d really like to work with him.
    And Javed Akhtar?

    I am fond of the films he has written. Personally, I have just met him once. There was a screenwriting seminar in Pune which Anjum (Rajabali) had organized. It was one of the firsts of its kind, around some 5-6 years back. He told me to speak about Salim-Javed and I readily agreed. I love Salim-Javed’s work and have grown up on their films like Zanjeer, Deewar, Sholay and Trishul. So I made some notes to come prepared and to my horror, I found Javed Saheb sitting right there in the audience! I got too nervous.

    So I spoke to the audience that when I was 8-9 years of age, we used to listen to the radio which had slots for different kinds of programs, just the way TV has today. I told them about listening to the ad of Zanjeer. My father would be having a shave, few others kids would be waiting for me downstairs and I would be hearing: ‘Yaadon Kee Zanjeer Mein Lipta Hua Inteqaam Ka Shola’ followed by the ‘Diljalon’ song and ‘Prakash Mehra’s Zanjeer’ while getting ready for school.

    All I can say is that I have watched Salim-Javed’s films at a very young age and they have left imprints on my mind. I have watched them many-many times as in those days, there used to be reruns in theatres. I have seen all these film 20-25 times each. That way, they get stuck in your mind and get tattooed. Even today when me and my brother, or even Rajat (Aroraa); get stuck somewhere we think of scenes from these movies.

    What about Vijay Anand and his films?
    Similar. I used to love Dev Anand as an actor. Probably the reason for it is that I could see films like Johnny Mera Naam and Jewel Thief at a young age. Quite at the same time while I watched Salim-Javed’s films.

    We see a lot many movies and somehow, some of them stand out. May be it’s because of the way they are shot, directed and edited. Later on you learn to appreciate such films and get to know how Teesri Manzil is different from other thrillers. Vijay Anand and Hitchcock are directors whose works are textbooks for me. They are the people whose work I have liked first as viewer and then later on tried to figure out why their films worked so much.

    As a writer, is there a particular genre you like to work in?
    Not particularly. I have only done thrillers so far but I would like to explore other genres as well. In fact, I am currently writing a few things in other genres. It’s not like I am genre specific.

    Even if I talk about Vijay Anand and Alfred Hitchcock; I mean a certain kind of thrillers. A crime novel or a crime film can explore whole lot of other things and I don’t feel restricted by doing a film in that genre.

    From idea conception to actual shooting, what is your process of writing?
    I wish I had done twenty films, only then I could have given a clear-cut answer. I am still finding my process. Right now, or rather so far, it’s a little haphazard. Writing with B P Singh was always a last moment kind of a thing. Friday I was asked to write something so that shooting could take place on Monday. The only motivation to write at that time was of getting paid. That could buy me some more time of my own.

    It was like you know it’s a CID episode, so you work under that pressure and sometimes come up with good stuff and sometimes, not so good stuff.

    The first film which I did, Ek Hasina Thi, was not actually my script. It was written by a writer named Pooja Surti and what she had written was actually like a novelette. Scenes were not defined, dialogues were little more descriptive and so on. But the essence of the story was there in that broad one-line: A girl who gets conned by a good-looking charmer eventually goes to jail where she gears up to take revenge. At that point of time, I was so desperate to make a movie that I would have probably said yes to whatever Ram Gopal Varma had given me.

    What I liked about this story was that it had a love story in the beginning, followed by a jail drama section and then a revenge story in the end. So it was three different kinds of movies packed in one. I jumped on to it. Ramu asked me to flesh out the script and then we sat down and rewrote it in three months. A lot of things which made into the film actually happened while we were writing it.

    What is your writing process right now?
    Now I am in a different phase. On one hand I am trying to recharge myself after Agent Vinod and trying to watch as many movies, on the other I am also trying to write two scripts at a time. One I am writing on my own and another one I am writing with someone else. It’s an early stage for both these scripts where I just know the broad story. I am just jotting down scenes which I feel can happen in these films. I am not writing extensively but what I am putting together is a shoebox of ideas. One story is set in early 50s-60s and right now, what I am writing are all the possible things which can happen in that film. I can tell you only this much because after that, everything goes into a vague territory. Once I find my shoeboxes full, I will start putting pen to paper.

    Somewhere the story also evolves in this kind of a process. Sometime later I will try and start writing it like the first draft of a script. Then I will write one version which is right up to the end. That is the way I wrote Johnny Gaddar. Good or bad, I write a draft till the very end. Usually it doesn’t come out good but it at least has some good points. Then you have something to improve upon. It’s a lot of rewriting actually.

    Give examples from your films: What gets you fascinated to a subject and how you finish writing it?
    I will take the case of Ek Hasina Thi. It has a very normal premise: A girl gets betrayed, gets into jail, escapes from there and takes her revenge. It’s not a very novel one-liner. Now what I liked is that the initial part was a love story.

    So Pooja and I started working out scenes and as the first version, we wrote a very Yash Chopra kind of a love-story to establish how the relationship between the girl and the boy develops. Ramu felt we were keeping it too regular and suggested us to go a little edgier. Then he gave us a couple of leads on that. For example there was a scene which Ramu had suggested to us. There was scene in which she comes out of the supermarket, some thief snatches her bag and runs off. This main guy goes in, catches that guy and gets the bag back. She thanks him and he asks her for a cup of coffee. Now, Ramu suggested that the boy would make fun of the whole thing and say “Oh, that guy was a bit short, that’s how I could get him down.”

    Similarly there is a scene in which some guys try to hassle her and he comes in and hits one of them breaking his arm. Later on he says “I broke his arm, I will have to pay him more money. I had paid them just to hassle you.” But you never know if he is lying or whether it actually happened. So these little ideas which Ramu gave us suited well to the character and made the film edgier.

    We reached a point while scripting the movie where in spite of it being a thriller, there was nothing thrilling for the first 40 minutes. Ramu said, “People will think it’s a love story. Where is the thriller? We should try and inject something.” He told that since Karan, the character played by Saif (Ali Khan), is a mafia-related guy we should have had some hint of that background. To overcome this we tried to think of scenes which would not look like expository or explanatory kind of scenes. Then Ramu recalled a scene of Godfather 3 in which the lead pair is in bed when suddenly a sound is heard and a guy is found hiding. But if we had done some something too similar, it would have stood out reminding people of that film.

    I think it was Pooja’s or Ramu’s idea because it wasn’t mine, but what we did was that these two are in bed when she suddenly she hears something and goes to the kitchen. We then hear her scream and we hold on Saif and wonder what happened inside. He goes there and finds that she is scared at finding a rat. That is kind of a false alarm and it also gets a laugh but I told myself “Even if it’s not the thriller I was looking for, there is some edge to it.” Then, thanks to that one scene, we got the whole motif of rats in the movie. We made her be a person who is scared of rats (Even I am terrified of rats myself!). We used rats even in the jail sequence and then again, in the absolute climax. It is magical how one gets something for one reason and then three-four more scenes fill in and suddenly it starts looking like something completely organized and planned. If we hadn’t thought about that scene in Godfather Part 3 we wouldn’t have got that sequence.

    This is how ideas come in the real process of writing. What you end up with is pretty much what anyone else can write, but in the process, you have to be alert enough to keep getting those terrific little ideas otherwise, writing is a very painful and lonely kind of a thing. So one good idea can give you the momentum to do well and can charge you to go ahead.

    How did Johnny Gaddar happen?
    That was one script I had written even before my first film. I had seen Reservoir Dogs, Tarantino’s film, and had loved it. I read Tarantino speaking in an interview that he was so keen to make this film that he had thought of making it with newcomers in less than 50 thousand dollars. Of course, the script then went out to Harvey Keitel and became a big enough film with known actors who were willing to work in it because they loved the script.

    So I thought it was a good route to take. I wanted to make a low-budget thriller without stars, with somebody new. I wanted to make it as cheap as I could. I am a big fan of the French Film Noir, filmmakers like Jean–Pierre Melville, the American Crime Thrillers of the 40s and so on.

    That was the space, the world I was trying to work out. I had a list of movies like Kuberick’s The Killing and Blood Simple:All low-budget crime films. Then, I took the simple idea of ‘a caper which goes wrong’ and slowly, bit by bit, was trying to come up with a workable story. I had this story even before I met Ram Gopal Varma and made Ek Hasina Thi. So I had the script but didn’t have a producer or a financial backing. Even though it was a small-budget film nobody was interested in making it as it was about a new guy, whom nobody knew, committing all these murders. It was a very dark kind of film. So it never got made at that point but after Hasina Thi it got easier to make that film.

    I also remember that much before Hasina Thi, I had also narrated it to Kundan Shah. I wanted Saif to play the title role and Kundan was working with him at that point of time.

    I told him I wanted to narrate the story to Saif and he asked me to narrate it to him first. We sat at my house for a drink and chatted. But he didn’t like my story. He said “It’s just the plot which you’ve got, there is no character, story; there is no film in it.” I said it at least had an interesting plot. He then said one line which made a lot of sense to me, “The plot has no life and life has no plot.” From what he said, I understood that plot should be just an excuse to explore characters and go much beyond.

    Though my script was named Johnny Gaddar even at that point of time, it wasn’t the film it became later on because it was only plot-driven. There was nothing else. Then after Hasina Thi I again took it up and rewrote it. Rewriting a script years later gives you an upper hand. I gave Dharamji’s character a wife and tried to look at each character like actual people while not thinking too much about the plot. Then, the plot and the characters kind of matched together.

    What about Agent Vinod?
    Vinod happened because of a meeting with Saif where both of us discussed the spy films we loved as kids, like the Bond franchise. We talked about the original Agent Vinod, starring Mahendra Sandhu, which both of us had loved. He asked me to try and do something like that. I didn’t want to remake the old film for sure because if you watch it today, it comes across as a spoof on other Bond and spy films.

    So we took the title, because it sounds retro and cool, and tried to make our own contemporary film. Ours was a today’s film with a different story – only the title was borrowed from the old film.

    Frankly speaking, Agent Vinod hasn’t done well enough to match our expectations but that’s a part of the game. We did spend a lot of time making it and had worked really hard on it.

    Why do you think it didn’t work as you had thought it would?
    After a thing hasn’t worked, every answer seems to have some value. I really can’t say. I knew the film was little long, little bloated when it was being written but couldn’t crack that. The story had already been defined in a certain way. It was a 2 hrs 40 min film which was too long for an action-thriller spy movie. It should have been only 2 hrs. But I felt it would not bother anyone if they enjoy it. Today, Anurag (Kashyap) has made a 5 hrs long film. So, if you like it you watch it; it’s not about time or length.

    I don’t know the real reasons behind Agent Vinod’s poor run though I have tried to analyze. I had a co-writer for that movie, a guy named Arijit Biswas. We had spent time thinking of a good story but then we felt, we should take a very standard kind of a story. What happens in most of the spy films? — The agent saves the world. Bond films are not about stories; they are about sequences, locations, moments and things like that. If you look at the story of Casino Royale, it is quiet a nonsensical story. I can point out more flaws in it than I have in my own film. But it doesn’t matter because it’s about the rush and the excitement which you get and which has been promised in the title.

    When my film got released, many people had expected a Johnny Gaddar kind of a story. This movie wasn’t clever in that sense. And this might be one among those few reasons which I can think of after the film hasn’t done well. But I won’t be able to pin point one exact reason. May be there was a flaw in the script which for some reason I couldn’t crack. Now I have to let it go.

    One flawed scene which I can think of is when Kareena’s character goes to discover the villain. There were so many cops around but she doesn’t tell them and goes all alone. That was something which seemed weak on paper itself but sometimes you try to get over these things as a director. But sometimes the problem just doesn’t get solved. I can’t make out why the movie didn’t work. All I do is to listen to the reasons which people tell me. Obviously, I have learnt from them and if I would get a chance to make another such movie, I would probably make new mistakes.

    Many critiques say your films are about films. What would you say to your style of injecting references to your favorite films?
    I don’t sit with a list telling myself which movies I should pay homage to. My films are about films in a way that probably most of my experiences are from films. All that I know is from films and somehow it shows up.

    Having references to other movies is something which is fun. But it should not be in- your-face and hamper the story. A film can’t highlight such elements as some private jokes which only I and a few people can understand. That’s not the virtue. You can do that but it doesn’t help the film in an overall sense.

    In Johnny Gaddar it all happened on its own. In fact, only after I read the reviews I could realize that there were so many references. I hadn’t thought that people were going to make a list of them. In the initial draft of the film, there was no reference to Parwana. But I remember from my childhood that it has a nice sequence of a guy taking a train, going somewhere else and creating an alibi for himself. So, I knew that the idea was from there. I asked Pooja, my co-writer of Ek Hasina Thi, “What if the remote gets switched on accidentally when these two are in bed and they find Parwana running on TV?” She laughed and agreed that it was a fun thing to do.

    Later on, I used this idea in Johnny Gaddar where the protagonist watches Parwana on TV and then, formulates a plan. Otherwise how do you tell your audience that he has suddenly decided to steal the money? How do you visually do that? So that’s where Parwana came in.

    In a similar incident, once Neil Nitin Mukesh had read the script and everything else had also got finalized, I went to meet his father Nitin Mukesh. He asked me why the film was titled Johnny Gaddar. I said “There is no reason, expect the fact that I like Johnny Mera Naam and this guy is a gaddar.” But he was apprehensive about this odd title and said “But still, why not a simpler name?” We had already started shooting for the film and I thought it was a question which needed to be answered.

    Then there was a scene which has Vikram (Neil Nitin Mukesh’s character) going to a hotel in Pune and there he has to register himself. He would have normally said any name but not his actual one. So I thought what if the receptionist is watching the film Johnny Mera Naam on TV? It keeps coming on Sony and even today I end up watching it again and again.

    One of my favorite scenes in Johnny Mera Naam is that of the confrontation between Pran and Dev Anand at the top of a hill. They fight with each other and then realize that they are actually brothers. So I thought what if that “Bol Kya Naam Hai Tera?” dialogue is being played out on TV at the hotel reception? So it clicked just like that. Then the receptionist asks about the surname in Marathi and Vikram doesn’t get it so he says “Ji?” The guy writes down the name as “Johnny G.” in his register, which eventually becomes allegoric to the title Johnny Gaddar. So again it’s like some magic idea which happens but not all the time.

    Today, why do you think there are more writer-directors than sole writers or sole directors? There is no trend behind it. I think most of the directors would prefer to be given a superb script. Then they just have to shoot it and enhance in whatever manner they can. But you don’t get those scripts so easily. Somehow most writers, like Abbas Tyrewala, began as writers and then turn directors. I think other than Shridhar (Raghavan) and a few more people, majority of writers have gone this way. As directors we do write our own stuff but say for example, you have a subject and I find it interesting why would not I make a film on it? I would love to do that. So it’s not like I only direct what I write.

    Does a scriptwriter contribute to the situations for songs?
    I think yes, definitely. I love songs in movies. Hasina Thi didn’t have scope for songs because we were not going for that conventional love-story but it had a background score. Johnny Gaddar had a lot of music but not songs in the usual sense. For Agent Vinod, I knew I had to have songs in it because it was a big budget movie. I didn’t want a situation where someone tells me afterwards that there are four songs which need to be put in and then to wonder where do I put them.

    At writing level, we are clear what can be a song situation. In Vinod, most of the songs happen while the scenes unfold. But there is no lip-sync song where the hero suddenly bursts into singing. Every song had a definite placement and has some part of the story unfolding at that time.

    I can give examples how it was done in earlier films. If you take a movie like Guide and remove all its songs, it would collapse. The songs tell you so much about the character, the story and so on. With due respect to Guide, all I want to say is that I love music in films but I can’t have a hero suddenly bursting into mouthing a song.

    So no lip-sync for you?
    Nothing like that! I would love to do it if I get a chance. Maybe I should do it out of a gut feeling! Mostly, my films are set in realistic zones so I am bit wary of how to make that look convincing. To break that, is not easy, but people have done it. Rangeela does that beautifully – very realistic film, expect the songs are treated like a musical. So you have to find your own method to do it.

    What about your future projects? Is it true that you have signed for a fantasy film, Happy Birthday with Ramesh Sippy, which will star Shah Rukh Khan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan? Happy Birthday is a subject which is very close to me. I was to do it 2-3 years back with Mr. Ramesh Sippy but there were date issues with the actors. Most importantly, I wasn’t also happy with the climax. I didn’t have the last 30 percent, so to say, and what I had was not good enough to make me happy. I told Rameshji that I could shoot it till what I had with me and was sure that the rest would get cracked in the meanwhile. But I didn’t know how.

    He got worried anticipating too many changes happening later and asked me to put it on hold. Later on, I had solved the problem but by then I had lost the dates of the actors. That is one film I want to do but it’s not immediately going into production. There is time for that. Right now I am actually writing another thriller. Luckily, I have got 3-4 producers who are interested in working with me. I am just taking off time in watching movies and planning things and maybe a bit later, will decide upon what I have to finalize.

    How much time does it take you to write a subject?
    I have not written too many films. Each of my films has taken its own time. From now on probably I will know if it takes me 3 months or 6 months. Otherwise, I feel, Agent Vinod has taken the longest time. Its first version took 6-9 months. That period also included a lot of reading, research and false starts.

    At some point, we deiced about the characters and the story we wanted to tell. Then we began writing. Vinod, for me, was mostly about the sequences. It wasn’t about the story, really. It was meant as much for kids. Even the title Agent Vinod is not like Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy where I could have gone into serious examination of a RAW agent’s life. It meant for a fun ride. The idea was – What if there could be an Indian Bond?

    I know I am not answering your question and talking more about Agent Vinod. I had decided that it wasn’t meant to be an ‘adults only’ film. Both my earlier films were not for kids. So, I deliberately kept the violence on a very fun level. Therefore, even when Vinod is tortured he is just given a serum otherwise they would probably break his knuckles and do things which are done to a spy. But here I went for a fun approach.

    That is probably why many critiques felt that it did not have the cleverness of Johnny Gaddar. Well, it wasn’t meant to be but they can have their own perceptions.

    If you were to take a class on script writing, what would you tell to young writers who look up to you?
    I don’t teach script writing. Sometimes I go to such classes just to share my experiences. I talk about things like – What it was, what it became, how does a scene change or evolve, why had I shot it in a certain way etc. I don’t have a very academic approach to writing.

    How do you teach writing? How do you teach someone to tell a joke? It’s just has to be done. I meet a lot of writers and get a lot of scripts of which out of 10, 8 are bad or unreadable. I don’t have an answer to why that happens.

    I think writing is rewriting. Many people write a draft and feel they are done but maybe there is just a germ of an idea there. Maybe, there is something good which one can encapsulate.

    I write till the day I go for the shoot. My scenes are open for improvement till the last moment which is one reason I don’t believe in a completely bound script. I keep one door open all the time so that I can incorporate if I get something better. Of course, I would not say tomorrow suddenly that I want a giraffe on the set but within the scene, within the dialogues, it can improve to a large extent. In Vinod, maybe I overdid that. Sometimes you should also know where to stop.


  4. Avatar Author
    sputnik 6 years ago

    First Look Poster of Sriram Raghavan’s Badlapur starring Varun Dhawan, Huma Qureshi, Yami Gautam and Nawazuddin Siddiqui

  5. Avatar Author
    sputnik 6 years ago

    Another Poster of Badlapur.

  6. Avatar Author
    sputnik 6 years ago

    Badlapur Motion Poster

  7. Avatar Author
    sputnik 6 years ago

    Another poster.

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